Sunday, February 26, 2017

Go Make a Movie

The late great Chantal Akerman

Everything is bad.

The inhumanity of money is killing the world. It is killing the rainforest, it is killing the Middle East, it is killing the breadbasket farmlands. And it is killing movies.

They are dying slowly and ignobly; choked to death by vast sums of capital and its inevitable progeny, the same venal dull comforting nothing that destroyed painting and sculpture. Studio filmmaking has become the inoffensive faux-expressionist paintings sold at Target, designed to fill space, not affect it; it has become those massive insipid sculptures in city squares paid for by public arts programs, that are seen by millions and inspire no strong feelings from anybody.

Okay, Moonlight was good. Manchester by the Sea was good. So why weren’t there 40 Moonlights last year, and 41 Manchesters? They will come from major studios — who are trapped in a gilded cage of superhero franchises — with the regularity and enthusiasm of pulling teeth. They have to come from you and I.

Personal art has to come from persons, not from committee meetings about careful franchise engineering and toy-line optimization. Something essential is bleeding out of the cinema, the way it bled out of paintings, and sculptures, and even the novel. We are constantly amazed that film after film gets whitewashed and dumbed down, but of course they do! Corporate inertia is the guiding principle behind corporate cinema, and there's no reason to expect films from Fox or Disney or whoever else to be any more progressive or heartfelt than a Walmart flashlight.

If movies are going to have any honesty, any humanity, they have to be created from the ground up, on the streets.

So why didn’t you make a movie last year?

Morris Engel, New York's first indie darling, shooting Lovers & Lollipops

It has never been cheaper, it has never been easier, and yet, somehow, it seems likes energized impassioned indie cinema has not been rarer since the early 1950s. Is it because we are all trying to make proper studio films? Well, vanishingly few of us will ever be able to buy-in to the stratified shrinking Hollywood system, so it's time to bypass it. We all have the means, we all have the method. It is up to frustrated filmmakers to find the discipline and confidence to make the best movies possible on micro-budgets.

Sarah Maldoror, the godmother of Angolan cinema

To begin with, don’t make a movie about a person just like you. Do not take “write what you know” as an excuse to shrink and insulate yourself. It is an invitation to learn, to grow. Find the most interesting person you’ve ever met — or even heard of —, learn about them, and write what you now know. Do not waste your time, or that of your audience, on anything autobiographical. It’s a bad beginning. If you are that interesting, somebody else will make a movie about you. 

Do not make a movie about movies. Do not make a movie about movies. Do not make a movie about movies. Your protagonist better not be a director, or a writer, or an actor, or GOD HELP YOU, not a pre-existing character. If you want to make a gritty version of a comic book or a cartoon you liked as a kid, please just stay home instead. Donate your camera gear to some kid living in poverty.

You can make your little tribute to movies when you’re 65. Make a movie about life.

Your script is going to be bad. That’s ok. See, most people write a draft or two and figure it’s good enough to shoot, but that’s like when you took shop class as a kid and you thought your stupid lopsided unsanded birdhouse looked great because you made it. Years later, you found that birdhouse again and saw that it was garbage. You’re an adult now, so you don’t need to wait for the postpartum afterglow to wear off to know that your script is bad and needs to be improved. Sand it down, polish it.

You need to look at your script with a harsh critical eye and not be afraid of how bad it is at first. The ideal mindset is confident that this is the story you want to tell but utterly ruthless about how well you are telling it. Take it apart second-for-second, look for those moments that make your stomach drop for just a second, and take them out. Find areas of connective tissue between scenes and strengthen them. Shop for solutions to script problems in other films, the newspaper, novels, life experiences, where ever. Get to the good stuff quicker. I don’t even have to read it or know what it’s about to tell you that: Get to the good stuff quicker.

Melvin Van Peebles, rated X by an all-white jury

You could get a Rebel or a Nikon D3300 for about 500 bucks, less if you buy used. You probably know a person who owns one already, and likely a bunch of other gear too. Give them the money instead and hire them to DP. Package deal. If they suck, put up an add on Craigslist or There are about five million guys on YouTube doing compare/contrasts of various prosumer cameras and they’re a fun enough watch, but don’t get lost in the rabbit hole. You can make a watchable movie with the worst camera on the market, I promise you. There is no wrong answer.

Your cell phone outfitted with a little adapter lens shoots well enough to film a feature length film able to be screened even on cinema screens. Just ask Sean Baker, he did it with his movie Tangerine, which is beautiful and still probably the best movie since it came out. For even the profoundly poor, if you are able to read this, there is no reason you couldn’t have made a Tangerine last year. And your voice is needed.

The books will tell you that you need a light kit — they’re right, you do need to carefully light your film for effect. A general rule is keep your subjects eyes lit, no matter what. You can darken their eyes for effect, but don’t turn it into a crutch. You’ll know in your heart if you are. A light kit no longer means you need a dozen heavy kliegs that need heavy-duty outlets. You are reading this on a light source. Computers, phones, headlights, televisions, street lights. You are surrounded by light kits. For my first film, The Calm, I lit most of the night scenes by burning onto a DVD a video of full screen colors. Red, yellow, green, blue, etc. emulating the “gels” of a proper kit. I played the DVD on a television, or a computer screen, and paused it at whichever color I wanted. For close ups, I laid the computer monitor in my actor’s lap.

A young Ruy Guerra, Brazil's answer to Werner Herzog

Focus on sound equipment, not camera and lighting gear. You can do just about anything with a mediocre camera, but nobody is going to watch your movie if you have bad sound. Find a professional — once again, you probably know some sullen DJ in your network, or once again, look to Craiglist. This should be one of your biggest expenses. Get a package deal of a pro with equipment, unless you’re confident enough that you don’t need any advice here. Expect to pay more for sound than for camera, up to twice as much. Keep your sound needs as simple and direct as possible. You can record sound harsh enough to burst an eardrum, you cannot record video ugly enough to burst an eyeball.

Take out dialogue where you can. If your line doesn’t tell us something new about the story or character, it should be a candidate for removal. The less people say, the easier your sound mix will be. If you can manage entire scenes without dialogue, you’ll find your shooting day so easy that it feels like a mini-vacation in the middle of your shoot.

Be good to your actors. Pop culture will tell you that directing is about alternately banging and yelling at your actors. It’s not true. Like anyone else, give them space to work. Take an acting class to understand what it’s like on the other side of the camera. It’s a fragile headspace. It’s far far easier to direct the camera than direct the actors, but don’t be a coward and retreat behind the lens to avoid the hard stuff. Do it properly. Listen to them, treat them with respect, and help them get what they need to work. Also, feed everybody. That goes a long way.


It’s time to edit now. You know somebody with Avid, Adobe Premiere, or even (god help you) Final Cut. If you do it yourself, fine, but you’re going to have to be extremely, psychotically self-critical.

Let’s get the stupid stuff out of the way first. You’re not going to be able to fill your soundtrack with songs, so put away your stupid Weezer mix and don’t count on that perfect song to spackle over the weaknesses in your script. You see why you had to stare at that script with a hard, unforgiving eye, and work those weaknesses out until they’re gone? If you did that well enough, all those great songs you heard in your head when you were writing will matter less. Your film will have grown past them.

Other than that, the editing process is quite a bit like the scripting process. You will have to watch your work over and over and over, analyzing those little things that don’t work. You might not even have a name for them, they could range from 20-minute chunks to a half-second where your mind wanders every time. There are a million books with a million rules about editing, and if you don’t know them, find somebody who does. There’s probably a 19-year-old kid around you with a cracked software suite who knows them all. When in doubt, minimize — don’t cut until you have a reason.

Now you have to get your film seen, and that sucks. I’m still working through that myself. But you’ll have to just navigate that river and push where you can push to get people to see what you’ve made. Once it’s recorded and put away, it’s not going anywhere. You did it.

Now make another.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

People Who Lived e. 1 - Caligari, the Dreamer, and the Devil

I want to try something a little different, so here's episode one of a show I'm beginning here called People Who Lived, just simple short storytelling about people (usually from the arts or figures from history) who did something worth remembering, something that can help us make sense of our trouble times.

So here's episode one: Caligari, the Dreamer, and the Devil, about Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss, two actors in Weimar Germany who found success together co-starring in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and whose lives diverged dramatically when the war came.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Cinema of Clutter

Natalie Portman for Miss Dior Chérie, nothing out of place.

I stopped writing here for a long time, for a few reasons. For a while, I was writing about movies on a different site, but even there it wasn’t at the rate I was cracking articles out here. The truth is, I pretty much lost interest in upcoming movies. I still haven’t quite got the passion back, but I’m trying. It feels like film has drifted from what it can and should be. The decline of the midbudget film is complete. Basically, if you want to see a thoughtfully written film for adults starring some big actors, you’d better get a time machine and turn on a television six years ago. But what’s worse is that even of the few modest films that make it out of the studio gauntlet, the majority feel empty. Literally.

In 2016 cinema, where the hell was the clutter? In this era of empty One.Perfect.Shot. symmetry, a messy room is the most under-appreciated tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal. If a narrative film is a presentation of a life and how it’s lived, the contemporary obsession with clean stark canvases reduces that life to nothing. How can you know anything about a person without seeing them surrounded by personal objects with meaning and value to them?

Arrival (2016) Denis Villeneuve

To prove my point, I’m going to pick on a film I sort of liked based on a short story I loved: Arrival. I came out of Arrival knowing virtually nothing about its protagonists — and consequentially feeling virtually nothing for them — despite the fact that I had spent 2 hours watching them, and one even intimately narrated the damn thing. Their lives were never on screen! In terms of movie romances, theirs had far less of an effect on me than, say, Chief and Mrs. Brody in Jaws, with whom we spend maybe 1/10th as much time.

Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg

But every room in Jaws speaks. The spaces are pregnant with as much meaning as the people. What kind of food they eat, what color their walls are, what furniture they have and where it is — stuff like this isn't in the film to fill space but to describe space, to tell us about Amity and the people within. These details help tell the story. The economic, cultural, ethnic, social, and personal lives of the characters are all around them, all the time. This is one of the purest edges film has over a medium like, say, the novel, in which all of that would have to be described or at least implied. In a film you can essentially run a showreel of a character’s life around them while the story runs. Most of the time, most of this stuff will never be noticed consciously, but it doesn’t matter because the accumulated whole is not just a story, but as much the story as the shark is.

Spielberg has always been a genius with this kind of thing. Just look at the Neary home in Close Encounters, probably his masterpiece of set design-as-story. The cluttered human warmth, the sense of tripping over something at every step, is what makes the vast emptiness of the alien space feel so unusual. Think how flat the ending of that film would be if the entire film looked like the last thirty minutes. Instead, because of the work Spielberg and his team spent creating a realistic human space (incidentally, check out the foreshadowing in that painting over the piano), the featureless space of the aliens is a coherent visual alternative, a separate path from Roy's life with his family.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Steven Spielberg

By contrast, with the exception of a single office, all of the empty desks and empty lakehouse in Arrival forfeit any personalized visual storytelling and put the film at an immediate disadvantage in terms of emotional connection. Who can believe a romance happening in empty space, in nowhere. In fact, the thoughtless beauty of the sets actively work against the film at times, since the lifestyle of the surroundings run in a counter-current to the lifestyle of the characters. I mean, honestly, who’s ever seen an academic with so few books? Her human grief plays out in a set that reads like a Bond villain's lair, or a perfume commercial.

It’s filmmaking for hanging on the walls, not living and breathing in, and it’s especially bad now in science fiction filmmaking (Ex Machina springs immediately to mind as another example), where the occasional inability to use existing locations often makes for a cinema of vast empty interiors. This attention to the texture of life is the primary visual difference between, say, Queen of Blood and Alien. Both are fine films, but only in Alien, with its taped notes and physics toys and pornography on the walls, do you have the sense that you are watching events that happen to real people.

One could probably try and blame Kubrick for this. It always seems to come back to his symmetrical tidiness. But he knew the value of a humane, imperfect interior. Eyes Wide Shut, for example, is full of shots stacked with unobtrusive lived-in detail and until up-and-coming filmmakers learn that lesson, too, we’re in a world where we can no longer recognize our own quirks or idiosyncrasies on screen.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Stanley Kubrick

There's something of a moral dimension to this, too. Like I said, the Arrival house reminded me a of a perfume commercial. So: What is the goal of ads like that, of the space they build? It is a space to project desire and foment unquenchable envy. They are supposed to leave us dissatisfied, inadequate. If that's the language in which we're communicating in the lion's share of films, if that's the world we're presenting our protagonists in as a matter of course, we've totally scrubbed the humanity out of our imagination. Empty beauty isn't worth all that much. One would think the generation of filmmakers raised on Star Wars would know that emptiness reflects inward, and the cold spaces are for the bad guys.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Son of ShotContext:

Run by Nick, I wish him luck!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Congrats to Sasheer Zamata, first female black cast member of SNL in years.

She's profiled in a 2012 documentary called "On the Cusp, Off the Cuff" - an hour long look at the UCB improv scene in New York. Even as one of five being profiled, she shines. Worth a watch and free to view on YouTube:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 in film

2013 in Review:

What a year! Lots of challenging, beautiful films. A strong year for minority representation - including films that weren't about that like Fast & Furious 6 or The Best Man Holiday (oh lord), which I haven't seen yet. Probably the strongest spread of black cinema since the late 1990s. but the prospect of a long-term sea change in that regard is rocky. Lots of films, both excellent (Spring Breakers) and terrible (The Canyons) about the changing landscape of the American Dream.

If you're not up to date on the direct-to-video action renaissance, you're missing out on much of the most powerful and ambitious filmmaking in the world today. Last year, this market was dominated by the incredible Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which has made the whole movement kinda too good to ignore for a lot mainstream critics. This is wonderful news, but unfortunately none that I saw wowed me this year - if I missed any good ones, let me know. I hope going forward we cease to be surprised to find quality in DTV, and instead expect amibition in the cracks as a matter of course. There's no reason not to, right?

Every year I wrap things up with capsule reviews of all the new releases I saw since January. There are some heavy hitters I'm still missing, like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Hunger Games, and I'm always behind the times on foreign releases, since they're slow to hit streaming.

Anyways, here's every 2013 movie I've seen, in order from best to worst. Feel free to add your input below!

Overwhelming. We've all known it was possible to make a space movie this immersive, beautiful, and relentless, and for me it was practically a relief to finally have it done. Beautiful sensory filmmaking, equal parts The Naked Prey and Kaleidoscope, this film has raised the bar for immersive camerawork for all time. The clear strong-lined compositions melt the constant motion of video games with the boldness of graphic design into something essentially cinematicLike all films it has flaws and there are reasonable perspectives for disliking it, but a large part of the criticism I've seen of Gravity is from pedants and stuffed shirts who seem to think excitement, beauty, and awe are troublesome byproducts of filmmaking and not the essential core of the art. I had a little slapfight about it here.

Spring Breakers
Pounding, complex, ridiculous magnificence. Keep an eye on this one, its uncomfortable and instinctual take on the sex-violence thing makes it our Marnie.

Twelve Years a Slave
The best parts of Twelve Years a Slave take on the myth of the "good" slaveowner, in a challenge to even Solomon's own reports in his original narrative, the benevolents caught in an unjust economic system are cowards and hypocrites. Sort of a jarring and very present-day thing, one of the many examples of McQueen's ability to reflect on the very political present without having to announce it. Also of interest is the Gordon Parks-for-PBS version from 1984, which you can rent on Amazon Instant.

The ocean as a cold, ink-black, sloshing circle of hell and the human as a beleaguered demon upon it. A nightmare actuality that does for the GoPro what The Shining did for the Steadicam. I've cut down my fish intake since this - yet it's not a slog, every single shot is infused with weird beauty and occasionally a sprinkle of humor. It's not a Moby Dick adaptation, despite its title and "Sacred to the Memory of" title card, but it gets that Moby Dick was about seagulls.

Pain & Gain
Michael Bay's Fargo.

The secret to Spike Jonze, and what keeps his films from the mopey middlebrow, is his love of the human experience. There's a lot of wit here, especially in the fashion trends and nonjudgmental social politics of his future. It's a little too emotionally taxing to be as long as it is, but that's a minor quibble for such a very accomplished and timely movie.

Fruitvale Station
Nakedly political and affected in the same way as that old propaganda short where Frank Sinatra teaches us about anti-Semitism, Fruitvale is an absolute necessity right now. Michael B. Jordan, as usual, knocks it out of the park playing the exact man an entire cinematic subculture is built to demonize.

Fast & Furious 6
It's still bullshit that this isn't called Furious 6, but it's amazing to think back to the original Fast and the Furious and try and figure out just exactly how it all spun into a series about an international James Bond super team. Lin-era Fast movies are a rebuttal to the tedium of the similarly structured Expendables and Avengers films. Fast 5 might be just a haaiiiiir better, but the beautiful locations, stacked cast, and absolutely insane action set pieces make this a masterclass in action cinema. I knew I was in love when Michelle Rodriguez used a handcuff as brass knuckles.

This Is the End
Charmingly ambitious, weird, and surprisingly humanistic. At one point I laughed so hard I almost had to leave the theater.

American Hustle
The '70s as a yeyed-out oversexed polyester playground, and I loved every minute of it. The Goodfellas comparisons are facile as hell, it's much more in line with the dizzying betrayals of Burn After Reading

Upstream Color
I admire it for technical reasons more than emotional ones, but we need more filmmakers as willing to explore as Shane Carruth.

As I Lay Dying
James Franco took something nobody thought could be done and did it, succeeding more than he fails. He’s grown a lot as a filmmaker, but has a great deal more growing to do.

What Maisie Knew
Loses none of the rage of Henry James's original novel about two childish adults and one very adult child. Has the heart of Ozu. A strong, quick, well-acted domestic drama, which feels like a rare commodity these days.

The Place Beyond the Pines
I love the idea of a triptych film and it never gets bad, exactly, but the big challenge of a movie like this is keeping each successive setting as interesting as the last, and this one fails at that. Interested to see what I think on a second viewing.

Europa Report
Heavily inspired by The Abyss, it has a nice Howard Hawks-ish professionalism and a captivatingly mature story. Solid acting and some really great exteriors - alongside Gravity as part of a new trend of post-Astronomy Picture of the Day high-def sci-fi. Unfortunately, it loses its luster in the interiors which are blocks of endless gray, and a too heavy hand in editing, especially in the last two minutes when they really really want to make sure you got the ending.

The Killers - AmexUNSTAGED
Werner Herzog's ten minute piece on earnest rockers The Killers is supposed to be fluff, but in a nonjudgemental and quiet way, it's a portrait of the doe-eyed, flaccid, literally creaky (check out that punchline of a last shot) state of corporate-backed rock and roll.

We Are What We Are
Stately, small, and elegant, it feels like an X-Files episode in all the best ways. I get the sense that Jim Mickle's best work is still ahead of him, which is very exciting for the horror community.

Compassionate, humane celebration of the mundane gestures and small tactile elements that mark our lives. Possesses a long, rhythmic quietude that captures the terror of waiting.

Don Jon
Major character foibles cause a third act collapse, but it's a fun and confident debut. Charming and lightweight filmmaking.

Computer Chess
I'm a sucker for anything in alternate formats. The daring visuals of this film, entirely shot on the long-dead Sony AVC 3260 video camera, do a good job complimenting its images of clunky old computers cobbled in California basements and its thematic perils of losing the analog, and director Bujalski's mumblecore background comes in handy with his cast of asocial obsessives. Its Achille's Heels are its gormless pacing and often less than stellar acting. Still, I'm glad something so idiosyncratic is out there. I kinda suspect in a few years we'll see a surge of interest in the early years of computing, and this weird little document might become a cult classic.

Toy Story of Terror
The cloying and tacky Toy Story 3 was the 21st century version of a velvet painting of Elvis, so this jolt of silly fun was a great of fresh air to me. I hope we get a new one of these every year.

Inside Llewyn Davis
Beautiful lighting and a carefully measured story that never once managed to pull me in. I'm thrown off by the refusal to explore the political side of '60s folk, but desperately in love with the visuals.

To the Wonder
There are some truly incredible moments in this film, but after the ropy last act of The Tree of Life, the great Terrence Malick's editorial seams are very evident now. He can't come up with anything for Olga Kurylenko to do but prance, and he just can't bear to cut away from her.

Last Days of Mars
Better than its reputation, but it never musters the nerve to step out of the shadow of its influences. Too much Alien, not enough Last Days on Mars.

Ninja: Shadow of a Tear
Isaac Florentine has always had trouble finding a story to match his balletic action scenes, and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear saddles him with a particularly weak low-stakes story. They don't phone it in, though. The action scenes are downright beautiful, reveling in Shaw Brothers-inspired contraptions and relatively bloodless leaping and pirouetting. I've long felt that since the demise of musicals, action films are the last haven of choreography, and Scott Adkins is definitely in the Danny Kaye mold here. Takes a while to get going, but very much worth a watch.

I kinda like that it got weird with it.

Man of Steel
There's a good hour and a half buried in here somewhere, but it's lost in a quagmire of exhausting adolescence. The 45 minute digression of Russell Crowe on a dragon is my personal hell. It's the best of Zach Snyder (unparalleled visual weight) and the worst of him (that embarrassing kung-fu lady) and the best of Christopher Nolan (impeccable casting) and the worst of him (godawful pacing).

Nice camerawork here and there, and Brolin really puts on a great show in the first half, but it just doesn't resolve the basic character problems of the original, which despite its "classic" reputation was, charitably, the 5th best mainstream Korean film of 2003.

Star Trek Into Darkness
Emblematic of all the bad trends in filmmaking today, starting with the ugly fact that it's noticeably less progressive than an episode of 1960s children's television. The "twist" villain was a two-fold failure - explaining him ate up story time for people who weren't familiar with the show and his offensively bad casting alienated those who were. The filmmakers threw away a lot of goodwill by completely misjudging what worked about the '09 reboot. The idea of going "into darkness" was a bad one to begin with, and with the exception of a few little moments with the (still spectacular) cast, every decision here was the wrong one. It made all the mistakes of those horrible TNG-era Trek movies that got the franchise in this mess to begin with. Grow up. For god's sake, grow up.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Some good stuff in here, mostly from Kristen Wiig, but Anchorman works because it's jammed full of unexpected beats and this one is mostly just more elaborate remakes of jokes from the original. You can't outdo funny with big. Also: fuck Drake.

Death Race 3: Inferno
The story is actually pretty solid here with a few fun twists and stunning stunts, climaxing in a semi-remake of the original Death Race 2000 ending. But alas, the car stunts get a bit repetitive, the dialogue never rises above the merely functional - which would be okay if it wasn't so goddamn chatty, and it's all tarnished with Black Hawn Down-esque racism.

Weird rage and godawful dialogue, just like the original. The conceit of shooting entirely from the killer's perspective, promises unparalleled access to a killer's mind but compared to genuinely unnerving serial killer films like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - or, hell, even elegant trash like The Cell -, it offers absolutely nothing beyond throwback '80s blandness and sloppily sketched quasi-human characters  It would've been better off if it committed to the silliness inherent in its horrendous script and William Castle gimmick instead of this half-assed "gritty" shock approach. It's all so goddamn pointless. Good musical score, though.

Devil's Pass
It cribs liberally from The Blair Witch Project and it's clear that its concept of teenage culture hasn't moved much beyond 1999, either. The dialogue is stiff and outdated and it's all got the vibe of a dad-rock version of a horror movie, ya know? But, this is a damn fascinating film - it's a quickie found footage horror film about that internet-famous Dyatlov Pass mystery directed by Renny Harlin of the hyper-budgeted Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea, and Die Hard 2 fame. The found footage style (which seems now to be on the wane) rose to prominence mostly because the rough aesthetic and semi-improvised storytelling style appealed to a horror community sick of slick bores like Harlin's own Exorcist 4. So it's interesting to watch Harlin's polished snappy style strain against a format specifically designed to oppose it. The compositions and actors never let go and sink into the milieu, which, when played against the occasional appeals to the camera itself and internet-derived premise/bad guys create a weird netherworld of a film, ill-at-ease and constantly at war with itself - picture a shitty late 90s action/horror interrupted by the constant question "are you recording?".

The Canyons
It got so handily trashed before release that I was half-expecting this would be a misunderstood classic. But nope. Garbage. Everybody involved in this production needs to grow up. Not a single thing to do with the present, it's just an increasingly irrelevant Bret Easton Ellis's memories of 1985 with cellphones lazily pasted over everything.

Movie 43

Just a total mess. Edited like shit. Cheap, cheesy, ugly. It annoys me because they get so wrapped up in fabricated mysteries they breeze past the new information I DID want to hear about. Not just a waste of everyone's time, an unforgivably vain waste of a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of original material and compelling subject matter. The filmmakers should be ashamed of themselves.

Pacific Rim
There wasn't enough sound, there wasn't enough fury, and it spent way too much time trying to signify something. Give me instead the grand insanity of Transformers 3, which - while also terrible - was at least enthusiastic about it.